The World Wide Web turned 25 this week, which gives us all cause to stop and reflect on its role in healthcare IT. It goes without saying that systems like electronic medical records would have a hard time really taking off without the Internet. Yes, they probably could exist without it, but if you think providers have workflow issues now …
I found out about the Web’s birthday on the very day I called my daughters’ pediatrician to schedule their annual well visits. The receptionist (who didn’t sound stressed at all) kindly informed me that they will be scheduling all future appointments into the new electronic medical record (Epic). Since that isn’t scheduled to go live until April 1, she took my appointment date and time down, and told me another staff member would call me back to let me know my appointments had been made in the new system.
It sounded like they are trying their hardest to avoid duplicate data entry into the old and new systems, but are having to rely on paper and pen to make sure everything ends up where it’s supposed to be come go live. Oh, the irony. I’ve got April 1 (April Fool’s Day, no less) circled on my calendar. I think I’ll give them a call back then to see if anyone sounds remotely stressed, or if things seem to be going smoothly.
This particular healthcare system probably won’t be in the “EMR Buying Frenzy” you may have read about recently. The numbers are downright shocking to me. HealthcareITNews.com reports, “[O]ne-third to half of all large hospitals are looking to trade out their old EMRs by 2016.” That is a ridiculous amount of money set to be spent by facilities that likely made similar investments in the not-too-distant past.
As a patient, I have to wonder how those second-round EMR purchases will affect the cost and quality of care. Will the price of procedures go up to help hospitals pay for these new systems? The money has got to come from somewhere. Just how frustrated will my physician be with new workflows, especially if they’ve JUST gotten used to the previous EMR? If any provider wants to chime in, please do in the comments below.
In another wonderful twist of irony, it is the World Wide Web that now allows me and other cost-conscious patients to research healthcare costs at our local facilities, not to mention come together online to commiserate about similar experiences. It will be interesting to see where the Web and healthcare IT are in another 25 years. Surely we’ll have achieved true interoperability by then!